|Soldiers search for land mines in a grassy area in the South Korean border city of Paju, Gyeonggi Province. / Yonhap|
By Lee Min-hyung
The two Koreas will start clearing mines from the heavily fortified Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) on October 1 as a first step after they agreed to disarm the border area starting with land mines.
For 20 days from Monday, Seoul and Pyongyang plan to remove all mines from the Joint Security Area (JSA) along the DMZ, the Ministry of National Defense said, Sunday.
"The two Koreas will engage in joint works to remove mines and explosives on the JSA and upland areas in Cheorwon, Gangwon Province," a military official said.
The remains of about 300 soldiers from the two Koreas and United Nation forces killed during the 1950-1953 Korean War are believed to be buried in the upland areas.
The two Koreas chose the area as a trial venue for the joint repatriation mission.
The move is part of a follow-up measure to the Pyongyang Declaration signed in mid-September by President Moon Jae-in and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un.
The leaders of the two Koreas agreed to continue concerted efforts to disarm the DMZ and withdraw troops from there as a confidence-building measure amid detente on the Korean Peninsula.
The two Koreas and the United Nations Command (UNC) will also form a trilateral negotiating body to speed disarmament along the inter-Korean border.
Details of when the organization will be set up have not been confirmed, according to the defense ministry.
It remains to be seen whether the two Koreas can complete removing the mines as scheduled because of a limited workforce and a shortage of equipment.